Joel Sovine Charged With Murder in Case He Called a Tragic Accident

Joel Sovine in a jail-house interview with 9News. Additional images below.
Joel Sovine in a jail-house interview with 9News. Additional images below.

Update: Last week, we told you about the arrest of Joel Sovine on suspicion of killing his friend, Greg Carlson, on November 21 — although he insisted that the death was actually a terrible accident that may have actually been a weird form of suicide. We've incorporated our previous coverage below.

It's now clear that the prosecutors at the Denver District Attorney's office aren't buying Sovine's more benign scenario.

This morning, he's scheduled to be formally advised of the charge against him: first-degree murder.

In the meantime, we've obtained the probable cause statement in the Sovine case. Among other things, the document, on view below, reveals that when Sovine first contacted authorities, he was thinking about suicide, too.

The apartment building where the shooting took place.
The apartment building where the shooting took place.

On November 25, according to the police report, Westminster police were dispatched to an apartment on the 800 block of 132nd Avenue "on a call of a suicidal party."

There, Sovine said he'd killed Carlson at an apartment in the area of West Oxford Avenue and Lowell Boulevard four days earlier.

How? Sovine is quoted as saying that during his visit there, Carlson pulled out several of his guns, including a 9 mm handgun.

When he tried to put down the weapon, Sovine went on, the gun accidentally fired and shot Carlson in the head.

A bullet hole left behind after the shooting.
A bullet hole left behind after the shooting.

This version of events differs significantly from the one Sovine told 9News during a jail-house interview.

In that account, Sovine said he and Carlson began pointing guns at each other and pulling the triggers — something he stressed that the two of them had often done for fun over the years.

The gun Carlson pointed at him clicked harmlessly, Sovine maintained — but when he took his turn with another weapon, that weapon fired, with the bullet smashing into Carlson's face.

"I saw his head hit the table and I knew he was dead," he told the station. "Pretty much knew he was dead."

Sovine headed to the South Platte with suicide on his mind.
Sovine headed to the South Platte with suicide on his mind.

At that point, the stories come back into alignment, more or less.

The police report says that Sovine panicked after what had happened and headed to the South Platte River, where he threw the gun into the water. Then, days later, he reached out to police in Westminster.

What's not mentioned in the document are intervening conversations Sovine reportedly had with his ex-wife, Melissa Traylor,

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In her own 9News interview, Traylor said Sovine called her after the shooting on the 21st. At the time, she added, he was drunk to the point of incoherence — something he denied.

Then, on the 25th, Sovine arrived at Traylor's home.

He said he didn't know how the shooting had happened, but he thought it possible that Carlson had set him up by secretly loading a gun in what was essentially an assisted suicide — and Traylor pointed out that both Sovine and Carlson struggled with substance abuse issues and depression.

Today's court appearance likely won't be the last for Sovine. The probable cause statement reveals that he had two other warrants in his name when he called the police about Carlson.

To see the complete 9News report, click here. Look below to check out Sovine's booking photo, followed by the police report.

Joel Sovine.
Joel Sovine.
Denver Police Department via 9News


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